North, Knox roll into 13th Region championship rematch


Les Nicholson

North Laurel guard Reed Sheppard split Bell County’s Carter McCune and Dawson Woolum during the 13th Region Tournament semifinals on Saturday. Sheppard scored 36 points in the Jaguars’ 59-40 victory.

CORBIN — As the coach at North Laurel High School for eight years before coming to Bell County in 2019, Brad Sizemore knew better than most just how good Reed Sheppard and Ryan Davidson were about to be. The Jaguars have won 74 games over the past three seasons with that duo leading the way and earned a trip to the 13th Region Tournament finals for the second straight year after defeating Sizemore’s Bobcats 69-40 on Saturday afternoon in the semifinals at the Corbin Arena.
Sheppard, a University of Kentucky commit and perhaps the state’s top player as a junior, poured in 36 points on 12-of-16 shooting. Davidson, a junior forward, added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
“We were trying to take the 3-point shot away and contain Reed as much as we could. He’s going to where he’s going for a reason. Both of those kids were mismatches, at times, for us,” Sizemore said. “It comes down to making shots, and we didn’t make a lot of open 3s. Their length and size, when we went to the basket, bothered us. You have to give the other team credit. They played well.”
“They carry us, and they’ve carried us all year,” North Laurel coach Nate Valentine said. “They open things up and some of our other guys stepped up in the second half and hit shots.”
Bell was led by senior forward Cameron Burnett with 18 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Dawson Woolum added 11 points.
Sheppard had three baskets in the opening quarter and Davidson added two as North took a 13-4 lead. Bell cut an 11-point deficit to eight in the final minute and was holding for one shot when an errant pass sailed out of bounds with five seconds left. Davidson hit a 3 to beat the buzzer as the Jaguars’ lead grew to 25-14 at halftime,
“I thought the play that ended the half was a back-breaker because I thought we were going to get off a 3 and they ended up converting and got the lead out to double figures,” Sizemore said.
“I feel Bell did what they needed to do. They slowed the game down. It gave them a better chance to win, “ Valentine said. “We got some stops in the third quarter and extend it out.”
North slowly pulled away in the third quarter as Sheppard had three baskets in a 6-1 run, then closed the period with a 3 that extended the lead to 45-30. Sheppard had two more baskets early in the fourth period, then found Clay Sizemore for a 3-pointer to ignite a 16-2 spurt that put the game out of reach.
The Bobcats, with seven seniors on the roster, had their best season since winning the 13th Region in 2011 with 25 victories and a 52nd District championship.
“I thought our kids did all they could. This is the best team we’ve played all year,” Sizemore said. “I’m proud of all these kids accomplished late. I know it got physical at the end, but they didn’t want the season to end. We won 25 games this year and beat several teams we haven’t beat in a while. It’s a testament to this group of seniors and Dawson as a junior. I appreciate everyone who has supported them the entire year. It’s been an unbelievable season for me. We’ll regroup and move forward. I feel we have a lot of excitement back in our basketball program.”
North Laurel 69, Bell County 40
Reed Sheppard 36, Clay Sizemore 6, Brody Brock 2, Ryan Davidson 19, Caden Harris 0, Chase Dotson 2, Colton Rawlings 2, Kyler Elza 0, Krish Patel 0, Kole Jervis 0, Reece Davidson 2, Dawsen Walker 0, Dylan Nicley 0, Brayden Caudill 0. Totals: 26-41 11-11 69.
Carter McCune 0, Dawson Woolum 11, Dalton Stepp 3, Hayden Callebs 2, Cameron Burnett 18, Chanse Belcher 2, Austin Goodin 3, Ethan Buell 1, Noah Brock 0, Cole Hoskins 0, Cameron Hall 0, Blake Burnett 0. Totals: 15-40 7-14 40.

North Laurel 13 12 20 24 — 69
Bell County 4 10 16 10 — 40
3-point goals: North Laurel 6-11 (Sheppard 3-3, Sizemore 2-6, Davidson 1-1, Jervis 0-1), Bell County 3-13 (Goodin 1-1, Burnett 1-3, Stepp 1-5, Callebs 0-1, Belcher 0-1). Rebounds: North Laurel 21 (Davidson 11), Bell County 18 (Burnett 6 ). Assists: North Laurel 18 (Sheppard 5), Bell County 8 (Callebs 3). Turnovers: North Laurel 9, Bell County 11. Fouled out: None.

CORBIN — If anyone is going to put an end to Knox Central’s reign in the 13th Region, they’ve got to find a way to slow down Jevonte Turner, Gavin Chadwell, and Isaac Mills.

The trio combined to score 50 points and pulled down 25 rebounds during the Panthers’ 68-38 blowout win over South Laurel in Saturday’s 13th Region Boys Tournament semifinal action.

Turner dished out 18 points, and 10 assists and finished with 10 boards while Chadwell added a 20-point, seven-rebound effort. Mills finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Knox Central dominated the action, shooting 31-of-51 from the floor, including going 4-of-8 from 3-point range while outrebounding the Cardinals, 31-12. The Panthers forced South Laurel into 14 turnovers, and a 15-of-43 shooting effort, including going 3-of-16 from behind the arc.

The win advances Knox Central to Monday’s 13th Region title game where the Panthers will try to become the fifth basketball program to win at least four region championships in a row. Clay County has accomplished the feat twice (1973-76 and 1984-90) along with Corbin (1947-52), and Harlan (1942-45).

Knox Central came out on fire in the first quarter, jumping out to a 6-0 advantage before the Cardinals finally scored their first basket at the four-minute mark.

Mills scored the Panthers’ first four points before Abram Brock hit two free throws to make the score, 6-0. South Laurel’s Caden Jones’ knocked down the Cardinals’ first field goal with four minutes remaining before seeing Knox Central go on an 8-0 run.

Consecutive baskets by Turner combined with a layup from Chadwell and a jumper by Mills increased the Panthers’ lead to 14-2 with a minute remaining in the period.

South Laurel cut its deficit to 14-5 at the end of the period after a free throw by Brayden Reed and a one-handed by Rhys England.

Knox Central continued to dominate the action in the second quarter, outscoring the Cardinals, 16-6.

Turner added 10 more points to his total, scoring 14 points in the first half.

South Laurel managed only three field goals in the period while Turner scored his team’s last 10 points of the period, pushing the Panthers’ edge to 30-11 at halftime.

Knox Central connected on 13-of-26 shot attempts in the first half and outrebounded the Cardinals, 16-8. The Panthers also forced South Laurel into nine turnovers on 5-of-20 shooting from the floor, including an 0-for-7 effort from 3-point range.

Tony Patterson’s squad quickly put an end to any hopes of a Cardinal comeback after scoring the first eight points of the second half.

Chadwell scored the third quarter’s first six points while Mills added a layup to give the Panthers a 38-11 lead with 4:33 remaining in the period. He scored 10 points during the quarter, helping his team take a 46-22 advantage entering the fourth quarter while putting the game out of reach.

Jordan Mabe led the Cardinals in scoring with seven points while Reed followed with six points while Parker Payne and Eli Gover each scored five points apiece.

Knox Central 68, South Laurel 38

Knox Central 14 16 16 22 68

South Laurel 5 6 11 16 38


Knox Central (68) — Ledford 6, Brock 4, K. Turner 4, Mills 2, J. Turner 18, Mills 12, Chadwell 20, Pilarski 2.

South Laurel (38) — Smith 2, England 4, Steele 2, Gover 5, Bundy 1, Fullmer 2, Jones 4, Payne 5, Reed 6, Mabe 7.